Christian values still worth teaching

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I AM not sure where the Reverend Sandy Fraser gets his statistics when he asserts that it is false to claim that the majority of citizens deny the existence of God (Perspective, 26 July).

As a member of the Church of Scotland, I have many conversations with fellow members and not a few ministers on the place of religion in society and the beliefs held by adherents.

I can’t talk for citizens in general but I believe that my own views are representative of the great majority of church members and many ordained clergy.

We believe that a man we know as Jesus lived in Palestine about 2,000 years ago and preached a gospel based on love, forgiveness and modesty.

We appreciate that, in those faraway days with very limited scientific knowledge, it was common to involve a deity in such storytelling to explain natural phenomena that could not be explained scientifically at that time.

Today we have much better science and there is now no need to believe in any mythical supernatural being to give credence to our moral philosophy. It is, I suggest, perfectly reasonable to teach children the moral values of Christianity and other ­religions but unacceptable to lumber them with out-dated “beliefs” in a god.

James D Brown

Elgin, Morayshire


WHEN I read the Rev Sandy Fraser’s defence (Perspective, 26 July) of the legally required placements for Church of Scotland nominees on our elected local authority election committees I think that I heard a cock crowing for the second time in a week.

On the earlier occasion, on BBC radio, and in his letter, leading Church of Scotland representatives outlined the undoubted virtues of these Church representatives on the committees.

But there was no word of Jesus Christ and his message – the fundamental justifications for the existence and activities of the Church – in the work of these ­representatives.

If education committees of elected councillors want to supplement their numbers with people of the qualities outlined by the Rev Fraser, they could find them by open public competition, not by restricting the positions to nominees designated by two specified religious denominations and other Christians.

The denial of Christianity in these defences of religious privilege can only heighten concerns about a hidden ­religious agenda in the work of these religious nominees on education committees, particularly when they use language which suggests a lack of confidence in our elected representatives.

There is, additionally, no repudiation of the claim in Church of Scotland papers for the Annual Assembly that Church representatives “hold the balance of power” on 19 of Scotland’s 32 local authority education committees.

As to the claimed religious diversity of these representatives, the Edinburgh Secular Society has demonstrated that 95 per cent of them are Christian, whereas Christians only take 75 per cent of the time in the Scottish Parliament’s Time for Reflection and recent survey data suggests that only about half the population now identify with that faith. Humanists are also excluded from ­involvement in these committee roles since they have no place of worship.

The present arrangements do not produce representatives who reflect the diversity of contemporary Scotland.

Norman Bonney

Edinburgh


I SHARE the concern of Gary McLelland (Letters, 26 July) about the state of Scottish ­education and the way that the whole system is run.

However, it seems as though the Edinburgh Secular Society is unaware of the historical and legal reasons for religious representatives being on education ­committees.

The current arrangement exists because the churches handed over their schools to the state on the understanding that the schools would be divided into Roman Catholic and non-denominational, not non-Christian.

As part of that arrangement the churches were granted representation on local council education ­committees.

Secularists like Mr McLelland wish to change that, and to do so on the basis that church membership in Scotland is falling. I find this somewhat ironic given that the Edinburgh Secular Society and other secular societies have a membership that can be measured in hundreds, whilst the churches have hundreds of thousands.

As previously mentioned (Letters, 25 July), why should the unelected handful of members of the Edinburgh Secular Society dictate to the rest of the population what type of education system we should have?

The mistake that secularists are making is to assume that their secularist position is de facto the only true and neutral one.

This is a position that is as fundamentalist as any that the most extreme religious fundamentalists offer.
If the secularists want to ­renege on the current agreement then perhaps it is time to let the churches run their own schools again.

Then parents will have a real choice.

Gordon Bell

Communications officer

Free Church of Scotland

The Mound 

Edinburgh